NUS-USI responds to allocation of extra student hardship funding

NUS-USI responds to allocation of extra student hardship funding
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has announced an additional £2.8 million in support for higher education students studying in Northern Ireland. 

Speaking after making the announcement, the Minister said: “Each year my Department makes available student support funds to the local higher education institutions for distribution to students who can demonstrate genuine financial hardship. I recognise the cost of living crisis is having an additional impact on many student households and students are facing increased financial pressures. In recognition of this, I am therefore pleased to be able to announce that for 2022/23 additional funding of £2.8 million will be provided through the Higher Education Student Support Funds to help those students who encounter financial hardship during the course of their studies.

“Student Support Funds are administered on behalf of my Department by the five higher education institutions here in Northern Ireland and each institution is responsible for assessing students’ needs and issuing support."

The Minister added: “I would encourage anyone who feels they may be eligible for additional support to contact their higher education institution to determine their eligibility. For example you may be able to receive support for help with living costs that are not already covered by other grants, or emergency payments to cover unexpected financial crises or exceptional costs – such as repairs to household equipment or if you are thinking of giving up your course because of financial problems and need financial help to keep studying.”

Chloe Ferguson, NUS-USI president responded, “We welcome this additional funding and the certainty that it provides to higher education institutions as the year begins. Consistently students report financial troubles as being the biggest barrier to completing their studies, and one of the main contributors to poor mental health. Hardship funds help to keep students in education. 
“However, this funding is a drop in the ocean compared to the real support students need to get through the cost of living crisis. Student finance hasn’t risen with inflation for over a decade. How is a student today supposed to survive on the same amount when electricity and gas is sky rocketing, rents are going up and food bills are also increasing? 
“Hardship funds provide vital emergency support to students who need it. But the funds are notoriously difficult to access, and often leaves students waiting several weeks for an amount which might only cover a single month’s rent. By allowing student incomes to stagnate year after year our government is letting students reach crisis point unnecessarily. We need real action to help students this winter – and we need a government back up and running.” 

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